Civics 101

What exactly is the 10th Amendment?

Pete Hegseth, the host of Fox and Friends, raised eyebrows over the weekend during his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference when he suggested that when he sits down to talk with people, they talk about — among other things — their families, the First Amendment, the Second Amendment and the 10th amendment.

The assertion drew quite a bit of pushback on Twitter because — while the first and second amendments are well known — the 10th Amendment just doesn’t get as much press.

Chances are, if you have landed on this article, you aren’t quite sure what the 10th Amendment is either, so let’s dig in.

About Those Amendments: First, there is some significance to the first 10 amendments to the Constitution. The first 10 amendments are known as the Bill of Rights. These were the set of personal liberties and states’ rights that the original states required before they would sign on to forming a union and submitting to the Constitution. These 10 amendments specifically grant individual and states’ rights and limit the power of the federal government.

The 10th: The 10th Amendment — despite it’s low profile — is the quintessential Republican amendment. If you are a fan of small government or prefer state government to federal government, this amendment is the one you can always fall back on.

Below is the text of the 10th Amendment:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

The 10th Amendment means the federal government only has the powers it is granted in the Constitution. It cannot impose further powers or prohibitions on it than what is Constitutionally outlined. Any power not given to the federal government is reserved for the states or the people of the United States.

Are people talking about it?: While Hegseth was widely mocked on social media for saying people were discussing the 10th Amendment with him, chances are since he travels in Republican circles, they were. They just might not have been calling it the 10th Amendment.

If Hegseth was hearing form people concerned about government overreach and states’ rights, then he was in fact talking to people about the 10th Amendment.